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Bush Outlines 2003 Accomplishments in Weekly Radio Address - 2003-12-13

President Bush used his weekly radio address to outline many of the domestic issues he will use in next year's bid for re-election.

From health care reform to Iraq, President Bush says it has been a year of accomplishment in Washington.

Mr. Bush says more tax cuts are helping strengthen the U.S. economy, with third quarter productivity growing at its fastest rate in nearly 20 years.

He thanked Congress for working with him to fund the fight against the spread of AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. Mr. Bush says legislators from both political parties succeeded in reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, encouraging adoption, restricting abortion and making it easier for poorer families to own a home.

The president says the government has taken urgent action on every front in the fight against terrorism, from funding first responders in America to backing U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Our country stood behind the men and women of our Armed Forces as they liberated Iraq and helped carry out the work of reconstruction there and in Afghanistan," the president said. "In Congress, members of both parties worked together to provide vital resources for our troops, who are fulfilling their responsibility to defend the nation."

The president says the year's actions have made the country safer and more prosperous. In 2004, Mr. Bush says the pressing issues will include creating more jobs and helping public schools. He will also be running for a second term next year, and will use many of these domestic accomplishments as part of that campaign.

The president's democratic challengers say he is not spending enough to help state and local governments fund domestic anti-terrorism efforts. They criticize his tax cuts for favoring wealthier Americans and driving-up the federal deficit.

In the Democratic radio address, Nevada Senator Harry Reid says his party has worked with Republicans to accomplish many things this year. But when Democrats believe Republicans are trying to steer the country in the wrong direction, he says, the party will offer another choice.

"We will do it because people deserve a choice, and because, in America, it is never wrong to stand up for what you believe, even if you are out voted. In fact, I believe the voice of dissent is often the true voice of democracy," he said.

Senator Reid says he is proud that Democrats stopped an energy bill that he says would have hurt consumers and the environment. He says Democrats fought to protect workers' overtime pay, and tried to save money by making more of the president's funding for Iraq loans instead of grants.

Mr. Reid says he is troubled by the way he says the Bush Administration brands Americans who disagree with its policies as unpatriotic.

"There are many areas where we do not agree with members of this administration, but we would never question their patriotism. They owe us the same in return," senator Reid said.

During this holiday season, senator Reid says, members of both political parties have their thoughts and prayers with U.S. troops serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.